Unable to find Windows 7 HomeGroup

December 9, 2010

I recently tried to add a new netbook to my existing Windows 7 HomeGroup.  To my chagrin, the new netbook did not find any existing HomeGroups on my network and insited on creating a new one.  Web searches didn’t quite lead to a fix, but it did give me some ideas.  Here’s what you can try if you are experiencing HomeGroup troubles:

  1. Ensure IPv6 is enabled on the adapter.
  2. If you have other network enabled devices running, shut them off when attempting to join the HomeGroup; for example, I have a network enabled HP printer which supports Bonjour and may have been intefering.
  3. Reset your WiFi router.

The above tweaks allowed the netbook to find the existing HomeGroup and join it without issues.  After joining, I restarted the printer and all seems well.


Installing Windows 7 on a Netbook

January 2, 2010

I had to install Windows 7 on an Acer AspireOne netbook this week.  It was actually pretty easy, but there are a few tricks given that these devices typically lack a DVD drive.  There’s lots of info on the subject online, but here’s what worked for me:

  1. Prepare the Windows 7 image
    1. Get an ISO of the Windows 7 edition you would like to install.  If you have the DVD but not the ISO, you can create an ISO file from the DVD using a tool such as ISO Recorder 
    2. Get a clean USB flash drive with a 4GB or greater capacity.  I used an 8GB stick.
    3. Download and install the Windows 7 USB tool from the Microsoft Store web site.  This tool will allow you to copy the Windows 7 ISO to the USB flash drive and make it bootable.  There are ways to do this manually, but the tool makes things much simpler. 
      NOTE: if you are using Windows XP, you’ll likely need to install the Microsoft Image Mastering API v2
  2. Backup the data files from the netbook
    1. I didn’t have much to backup, so I simply copied what I needed to a USB drive.
    2. Optionally, you could use the transfer wizard from the Windows 7 DVD to backup and restore your settings.
  3. Install Windows 7.  Now you’re ready to install Windows 7 on the netbook.
    1. Plug-in the USB flash drive and restart the netbook.
    2. Go into the BIOS for the netbook and change the boot order so that the USB flash device is first.
    3. Save the BIOS settings and restart.
    4. The Windows install process should begin.  Use whatever settings you need to install Windows 7.  In my case, I did a custom install and blew away all partitions during the install.
    5. After the first phase of the install completes and the netbook reboots, I had to update the BIOS once again so that it would boot from the built-in hard drive rather than the USB flash drive.  This may be specific to the Acer model as I’ve never had to do this previously.
  4. Restore the files and programs
    1. I did a full fresh install of Windows 7, so I had to reinstall any programs I normally used.
    2. Restore your data and you’re good to go!

Windows 7 Home Premium actually runs pretty well on this Acer AspireOne A150.  The little PC runs a puny Atom processor and has only 1GB of RAM.  But it has a decent size hard drive (160GB) and a graphics card that, to my surprise, supports Aero effects.

Hope this helps – enjoy Windows 7 on your netbook!

Sluggish Mouse in Virtual PC

April 18, 2008
If your mouse lags or is otherwise sluggish in your Virtual PC/Virtual Server guest, you can try one or more of the following fixes:
  • Ensure the latest VM additions are installed in your guest.
  • Ensure video acceleration is set to max (method varies based on guest OS).  Try:
    • From the display properties of the guest, go to Advanced
    • Click on Troubleshooting tab
    • Ensure the acceleration slider is all of the way to the right
  • Try to set the power plan of the host to "High Performance", and you should experience much better mouse and UI performance in guest systems.
  • Set the guest display settings to "Best Performance"
  • Some chipsets have known issues with mouse performance in guest OS.  More info: http://morphie.tweakblogs.net/blog/575/virtual-pc-erratic-mouse-problem-with-some-intel-chipsets.html

WSS 3.0 Uninstall Left Things Hanging?

April 16, 2008
Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 uses a SQL Server instance named “Microsoft#SSEE” when installed using the default settings.  In some cases, this instance isn’t removed when WSS 3.0 is uninstalled.  The SQL Server 2005 Emebedded Edition product also isn’t listed in the Add/Remove programs, making removal of these left overs a bit more involved.  Try te following to uninstall:
  1. Open registry editor
  2. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall
  3. Search for “SQL 2005 Embedded” (no quotes) under the Uninstall folder
  4. Copy the string in the Uninstall key
  5. Paste the string in a new command window
  6. Append “ CALLERID=OCSETUP.EXE” to the string
  7. Let it rip — this should uninstall SQL Server 2005 Emnbedded Edition along with the left over instance

Using the Motorola Q9m (Verizon) as a modem

January 3, 2008
I spent quite a bit of time trying to get my Windows Vista PC to connect to the Internet via my Motorola Q9m and its broadband connection.  Although this scenario has been made a lot easier in Windows Mobile 6, the applications to enable it are hidden and instructions aren’t provided by the vendors. 
Verizon requires that you utilize the Modem Link utility on the device along with their VZAccess software to tether a PC to the Internet via the device.  However, numerous attempts to connect in this manner did not work for me.  Furthermore, I disliked installing questionable 3rd party software to accomplish what the device can do out-of-the-box.  I tried numerous attempts at installing VZAccess along with the Motorola USB Drivers, but no combination worked.  All I was left with a bunch of useless DUN connectoids and no Internet access.
It turns out you can use the Windows Mobile 6 Internet Sharing functionality to accomplish this task, although no documentation existed on the VZ site.  The Internet Sharing application is still in the Q9m ROM, but the shortcuts have been removed.  The following link provides additional information on Internet Sharing versus Modem Link.
Here’s what you need to do to tether your Q9m to a Vista PC:
  • Ensure that you have a Broadband plan with VZW.
  • Install the Motorola USB modem driver.  The drivers are on the disc provided with your Q9m, or you can download the latest version from Motorola.
  • Use the Vista Sync Center to explore your Q9m.  Navigate to the \Windows folder and copy the IntShrUI.lnk file.
    NOTE: if you do not see the Windows folder when browsing the device, ensure that the folder settings aren’t set to hide protected operating system files.  You can access this setting via Organize | Folder and Search Options.
  • Paste the shortcut in the \Windows\Start Menu folder on your device.  You may want to also rename the filename to Internet Sharing.lnk, since this is the name you’ll see in the phone’s Start Menu.
  • The shortcut will now be visible in the Start Menu.  You can start the application and click Connect.  Windows Vista will recognize the device and install it as a network interface.

I suspect the same instructions will work on other Windows Mobile 6 devices that have had the Internet Sharing shortcut removed.

Sniffing Web Service Requests

June 22, 2007

You can use fiddler as long as you are sending the request over http.  It’s a quick download and is easy to use http://www.fiddlertool.com/fiddler/

Also check out:  http://blogs.msdn.com/dgorti/archive/2005/09/18/471003.aspx

And Kirk Evans’ blog

Useful Web Services Tools

June 22, 2007